Since the start of the New Year, there is a significant drop in Coronavirus cases despite the Omicron Variant
By: Samantha Bravo
Even though the highly contagious Omicron Variant is still prevalent in the US, Coronavirus cases in New York have decreased by more than 90% with about 7,000 cases per day since the first week of January. The rates of positive COVID-19 testing have decreased down to 4.4% from its recent high of 23% since the start of the new year.
In addition to the Coronavirus cases and positive test results, the hospitalization rates have dropped as well with only 5,466 hospitalized after testing positive with the virus. According to Governor Kathy Hochul, this is the lowest number since Christmas.
“Our hard work to confront the winter surge is paying off, but there is no time to let up,” said Hochul. “Let’s keep using the tools that will help stop the spread, protect our vulnerable loved ones, and keep our schools and businesses open.”
Part of the reason why is because the Omicron variant was proven to be milder than the previous variants which means the death rates have been significantly lower than the previous numbers during the first wave of Coronavirus cases in 2020. Furthermore, COVID-19 vaccines protected us from serious illnesses and Healthcare workers have been able to treat their patients more effectively.
In fact, the cases have been so low that Hochul has also announced that New York will be dropping its strict indoor mask mandate. This decision will be based on the number of the latest COVID-19 data and the number of people who have been fully vaccinated.
However, state officials are still requiring businesses such as restaurants and movie theaters to ask for full proof of vaccination.
“Positivity rates are down and hospitalizations are down, cases per 100,000 are down and new admissions are down,” she said during an interview with CNBC. “So New Yorkers, this is what we’ve been waiting for- tremendous progress after two long years.”
Even though there is proof that the vaccines protect us against the virus, still over 66% of the US remain unvaccinated and refuse to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only issue.
On February 7th, 2022, a new study showed that the Omicron variant is so contagious that even the White-Tailed Deer in Staten Island have been infected, making it the first time that any variant of the virus has been transmitted to wild animals. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the deer population has also been infected in 13 other states such as North Carolina, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and New Jersey.
Studies have shown that the White-Tailed deer are catching the virus from humans and then spreading it to other deer. Yet, it remains unclear if humans can transmit the virus from animals.
This new discovery may possibly result in several new variants that affect both humans and animals since the population of deer is very high in the US.
“The major concern is that when we let the virus circulate in any animal host, “said Suresh Kuchipudi, a professor of virology at Penn State. “In addition to humans, the complexity of virus evolution becomes very, very difficult to assess and comprehend.”
This also means that the pandemic will last even longer, and scientists must continue to develop the coronavirus vaccines. This is also a reminder that even though wearing masks, social distancing and getting vaccinated will protect us against the virus, we could still be exposed to it.
Overall, the decrease in coronavirus cases gives us a glimmer of hope, but we still have a long way to go before we end this pandemic once and for all.
“We’re not surrendering,” said Hochul. “This is not disarmament. We’re going to continue to be adaptable and responsive to the changing circumstances.”